B2B companies have many of the marketing opportunities open to them that their B2C cousins have, but they must approach them differently.
As a B2B business, you usually spend a lot of time nurturing your target customers to get them to convert. It can take quite a while because your sales cycle is longer and involves more touch points along the way. Rarely is it a linear sale.
However, persuading your target market to convert is easier when you provide upfront value and position yourself, and your spokespeople, as leaders in your industry.
And this is where having a coherent thought leadership strategy comes into play.
What Is Thought Leadership?
Let’s clearly define it:
Thought leadership is a content marketing approach where a business underscores its expertise by highlighting its spokespeople through the publishing of high-quality content.
When your thought leadership grows and gains traction other business leaders begin to trust you.
And this is good for your business because people like to buy from people they trust.
What Do You Need to Implement This Strategy?
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you get started:
Where is your target audience? In other words, where should this type of content be published to reach them?
What type of content can you realistically create in the beginning? Quality videos are typically engaging, but your resources may only allow you to write.
When are you going to post this content, and how frequently?
What are the subjects you’re going to write about? Note that to become a thought leader, you’ll need to provide real insight into your industry, so focusing on generic topics won’t cut it.
These questions can help you figure out your first steps, but please note that through testing, you may need to tweak the strategy here and there for it to work. You should feel free to pivot when the feedback and data tells you too.
Thought Leadership Strategy: Five Best Practices
Your B2B marketing strategy is tailored to the specific goals of your business, and thought leadership is no exception. However, there are some essential tactics that will help you see better results:
1. Be present offline
- Public speaking events can help your business grow its authority, so consider participating in some of these, even if they are just at a local level or (for now) virtual.
2. Start a blog/vlog/podcast
- choose a type of content that’s most comfortable for you at first and start creating content on a single platform to focus your efforts. Don’t try to be everywhere or you’ll burn out.
3. Use PR when you can
– Your PR department may be looking for more spokespeople to include in press releases, media alerts and other press opportunities. Let them know you’d like to offer up your services.
4. Be a guest
- you don’t have to create content just for your own blog or podcast. Being a guest can help you spread the word about what your business is doing to an already established audience. Most podcasts are looking for interesting guests so contact them and let them know you’re available.
5. Create long-form content
- short blog posts are fine but consider going in-depth with some of your content to provide real, tangible value. Options include whitepapers, research papers, infographics, and case studies.
Becoming an authority in your industry is not something you can achieve overnight - it takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it for you and your company.
You can start small with your thought leadership strategy, just to test the waters. Once you start getting some results, start thinking about scaling to increase your authority.
The hardest part is just getting started.
The rest will take care of itself as your effort begins to snowball.
By Tom Augenthaler
Keywords: Social, Marketing, Sales